The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping that goaltender Corey Crawford returns to action sooner than later after admitting that he’s been dealing with concussion issues when he went down last season. Still experiencing difficulties with concussions, head coach Joel Quenneville said the goal is to have the veteran goaltender out on the ice during practice as long as he can manage it, according to the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Lazerus.
“Good progress. Comparable over the last week and a half that when he’s on the ice, he’s better and he’s stronger and he’s feeling better. It’s all encouraging.”
The team desperately hopes that Crawford, upon return, will return to his elite form. He posted a 2.27 GAA and an impressive .929 save percentage in 28 games before going down. While it is unknown how much longer Crawford will be out, the Blackhawks are preparing to use Cam Ward as their primary starter if they have to.
- With the loss of Toby Enstrom, who opted to leave the NHL after 11 years with the Winnipeg Jets, the Jets have an opening for a defenseman and that candidate is likely to be Joseph Morrow, according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. Morrow, who the team acquired at the trade deadline a year ago. The blueliner didn’t get a lot of playing time when he arrived in Winnipeg as his ATOI dropped from 17:47 in Montreal to 14:30 with the Jets. However, he now has a chance to crack a spot in the top four as he did fare well in limited time next to Dustin Byfuglien. “Yeah, that’s a dream to play with Big Buff and be able to match that guy’s personality,” Morrow said. “I got to play with him a bit last year and we were pretty successful together.”
- The Minnesota Wild and head coach Bruce Boudreau have added a couple wrinkles into the early stages of camp as rookie Jordan Greenway has been playing the center position, while Mikael Granlund has been quarterbacking the first-unit power play, according to Mike Russo of The Athletic (subscription required). Greenway, normally a winger, was used at center during his junior year at Boston University by David Quinn. Boudreau wanted to keep him there as he led a line along with Joel Eriksson Ek and Charlie Coyle, which was a big success in their first scrimmage. Granlund also showed that he could handle the pressure of running a power play on the left wall and looked impressive in that role. “I thought the best testament was all the other forwards want to play the right half wall the way he was feeding them up there,” Boudreau said. “He can make that play. He can even put the behind-the-back pass to Suts. Granny has probably been our most skilled player. I don’t think I’m dissing anybody by saying that. When he’s got the puck, he’s pretty special.”
- Unlike last year when Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov came into camp overweight and out of shape, this year, the bruising 23-year-old did just the opposite, according to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post. He’s come into camp in good shape and has changed his diet to accommodate his conditioning. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound blueliner started in Jared Bednar’s doghouse for the early part of the season due to his conditioning, but slowly worked his way back into the rotation before finally settling in next to veteran Tyson Barrie and that hasn’t changed so far in training camp. Now, with the team much happier with his development, he has a chance to develop into a solid NHL defenseman.